Don't Quietly Quit—Boldly Live!Mar 08, 2023
"Quiet quitting" is the latest buzzword for the workplace, but its presence and effects are no stranger. For the uninitiated, "quiet quitting" describes the behaviour of an employee who completes only the tasks of their position without the usual "above and beyond" vigour. They aim to do what is required to complete the job or responsibilities at hand and nothing more. And while the pros and cons can be argued, one thing is interesting. For nearly every introvert I've chatted with, this is simply called "work".
The sentiment of doing one's job (with excellence or at all) and then getting the heck outta there is one that nearly all of our over 100 interviewees shared. Many shared the emotional and mental strain of the unspoken requirements that are not directly related to one's responsibilities but impact one's advancement, such as socialising after hours, making small talk with colleagues, or having cameras on at all times. These extra energy expenditures, while seemingly innocuous, over time left most of our introverts feeling fatigued, burned out, anxious, and underappreciated. Likewise, the strain of the energetic output of such unspoken requirements affected them beyond the office, with over half sharing that they feel they don't have the energy to spend time with family and friends although they'd like to.
These experiences were amplified for intersectional introverts, with introverted women of colour (WOC) experiencing the adverse effect more intensely, professionally and personally. In particular, introverted WOC expressed greater expectations to make themselves available for others and have health-related issues over time because of the increased stress and strain. From being passed up for promotions and raises to being reprimanded for their quiet focus on their work rather than their peers, countless introverted women (esp. BIWOC introverts) have turned to what is deemed "quiet quitting" to preserve themselves and their work in the face of environments that show (and tell) them that their skills, talent, and presence are, at best, tolerated.
Yet amidst this disheartening reality is opportunity. As the saying goes, "you can't control someone's actions but you can control how you respond." The answer doesn't lie in diminishing yourself and the work you're here to do. Nor does it lie in accepting a toxic work environment that poisons your mind and spirit. Instead, the answer is to go deeper, higher, and wider.
We introverts are a well of introspection and insight. We naturally excel at pondering, musing, and imagining. This depth is most needed, especially in our state of affairs. The notion of "quiet quitting" is a bandaid on a much more significant challenge that begs the question: what do you want, and what are you willing to do it? This question is one that even us thinking introverts can struggle with because it places the control (rightfully) in our hands. Are you staying in the position because you have to or because you're not willing to give up the comfort of familiarity? If your dream position has become a nightmare, are you willing to step away to move ahead? I can't tell you what to want or do to make it a reality - that's all you. But I can say to you, from personal experience and professional investigation, that creating space to be truthful with yourself is the first step to creating what Lisa Nichols describes as "a life that's unrecognisable."
Going higher is about ascending the "now" in anticipation of a "next" that's even better and that requires faith, hope, and gumption. The hardest part of choosing to go higher is the risk of leaving the "evil you know for the one you don't know," For introverts, you may as well punch us in the face. Yet, the invitation remains for us to take our capacity to observe, connect, and synthesise to create our own rungs, wings, and jetpacks to ascend beyond what we thought possible. So how can you take your amazing introverted self and go higher by faith, hope, and grit? What steps - big and small - can you take to ascend the expectations of others and yourself to reach your better next? Including finding a space where you can thrive and not just survive. Recognise that the most beautiful flowers will still die if not in the proper environment.
Part of our challenge as introverts is our connectedness. Although we don't often notice, we are connected to everything around us, and the contemplation of the implications of that connectedness often drains us quickly. And while we could (and do) let our brains go into overdrive, we also can harness that connectedness to co-create something useful and unique because of our introversion. Going wider is more than going beyond oneself - it's putting those connections of our thoughts, networks, and spheres of influence into service. Who can you connect with, and how can you add value to them? This connectedness positions us to create opportunities for ourselves and others through collaboration, mastery, and service. When we direct our inward energy outward with laser focus, we shift and shape our world for the better. Broaden your horizons by supporting others genuinely, and watch how opportunities avail themselves to you and for you.
Many of the introverts we interviewed persisted in positions, environments, and circumstances that were killing them because they were afraid to pursue what they truly wanted: to be seen as capable, to be heard as valuable contributors, and to be respected as leaders of themselves and others. But that doesn't need to be your story. Like a mighty tree, you can deepen your roots within and heighten your canopy without while stretching wide your branches of service and connection. As you do so, remember that your introversion is the invitation to live deeply and impact greatly, so embrace your AWESOME, engage your gifts, and empower your world.
Jacqueline Shaulis is the leading authority on communication-based personal leadership for intersectional introverts. As an introverted woman of colour, she's leveraged her challenging upbringing into becoming a transformational speaker, bestselling author, and executive coach & advisor to Fortune 500 executives…all while honouring her introversion.
The founder of Awesome Enterprises LLC, Executive Director of the National Center for Intersectional Studies, and author of internationally bestselling books "Embrace Your Awesome" and "Yes Introverts Can". When not globetrotting with coffee in hand or loudly singing "tune-adjacent" at home, you can find Jacqueline getting lost in a good (audio)book or hugging her son, his nine cousins, or the nearest tree. You can read more about Jacqueline and her work here.
Stay connected with news and updates!
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.
We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason. Ever.